New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration Thursday slashed aid to Newark by more than half, leaving the city with a $2 million deficit to make up over the next two months.
State officials, following through on the Republican governor's vow to cut aid to the state’s largest city, said Newark would receive $10 million in transitional aid for this year’s budget, not the $24 million it requested, reports the Newark Star-Ledger
Christie and Newark Democratic Mayor Cory Booker had shared a bipartisan alliance on budget issues concerning the city. But Christie earlier this week criticized the Democratic mayor and the city, which received $32 million in state aid last year, for ending 2011 with an $18 million surplus he said belongs to state taxpayers.
"I am unsatisfied with the efforts of the [Booker] administration and the city council to cut back that budget," Christie told reporters.
Newark Business Administrator Julien Neals said the city has been working with the state government and the budget has been stripped “to the bare minimum.”
Newark has operated under a memorandum of understanding since last year’s aid award, but state Department of Community Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said the city has not held up its end of the agreement. The city also missed the deadline for providing the state with a budget proposal for next year.
Booker has often been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor next year when Christie is expected to run for a second term. Some political observers said Christie's aid cut has all the marks of politics.
"I think it is telling, given the fact that Mayor Booker is often talked about as a potential opponent of the governor's in 2013," Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, told the Star-Ledger. "This would certainly harm the mayor's ability to govern effectively and therefore bring a successful record to the state's voting population."
But Al Koeppe, head of the state economic development board, said, "The governor's overall obligation is to be the responsible fiduciary agent for all of New Jersey citizens."
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